Stands, Racks, Furniture, Room Treatment

The Synergistic Research ACOUSTIC ART Real-Time Analogue Room Treatment

ARTICLE INDEX

Setup

Time and again you will read that a high-end system – any audio system, really – sounds best when situated in a symmetrical space that is free of bass consuming, resonant alcoves. While some audiophiles are fortunate enough to have such rooms, most of us do not. That includes yours truly.

The living / listening room at Casa Bellecci-Serinus is 24.5’ deep and 21.4’ wide. Ceilings are 9’ high with heavy wooden crossbeams, each 17” in height. The room is big enough to accommodate 16 members of the Bay Area Audiophile Society, seated in three or four rows facing the system, plus others on the periphery.

Due to room layout and the multiple uses of the living room, the system is not in the center of the room. At the far end of the room, not far from the right speaker, is a large, 8.33’ wide wooden-framed archway that leads into a large, approx. 16’x12’ dining room. The distance from the front door to the end of the dining room is 37’. This large cavity sucks up bass and plays havoc with the acoustic presentation.

Magnetron on Post


There are also other openings on the right wall, close to the listening position, that lead to the 2nd floor stairway and the hallway to the kitchen. In the rear, behind the listener, is a large granite fireplace that also catches sound waves. All this messes with the sound.

There is also a lot of space to the left of the left speaker. First-order reflections aim toward a small alcove that ends at the front door. While a heavy curtain covers the windows directly behind the system, the rest of the wall behind the speakers is not flat due to record shelves and support beams.

Magnetron on Post


Sensing the room’s challenges, Ted compensated for the soundstage’s natural pull to the right, caused by the large opening to the dining room, by toeing the left speaker a bit farther out. He also positioned the first-order reflection point Magnetrons on both sides of the sound system to prevent sound from resonating in alcoves. Because my room lacks solid walls on which to affix the Vibratron and first-order reflection Magnetrons, their bases were hung from special stands that Ted constructed in his factory.

Ted also brought two Bass Stations, placing one beneath the Vibratron (its traditional position) and another beneath the Gravitron. While most rooms do not need two Bass Stations, the extra bass resonance of my fireplace, and the size of the space, mandated the second one. (Ted explains this below).

Fireplace


Cabling and Power Treatment

Whenever I review equipment, I strive to keep the rest of my reference system constant; this enables me to best ascertain how the equipment under review is affecting the sound of the system. Ted, as noted above, wanted to demonstrate his Synergistic Research Tesla PowerCell and cabling in addition to the ART system. Hence, my Nordost Thor and most if not all of my reference Nordost Odin cabling, save for the speaker cables, was replaced. Since most of the Synergistic cabling has active shielding which requires it to be plugged in, Ted brought one of his long power strips especially for that purpose.

The change of so much at once skewed my reference. Hence, I spent some time getting used to the sonic changes before Ted did his final set-up and conducted the demo.

To these ears, unless it is fundamentally incompatible with Nordost, the Synergistic cabling is noticeably darker than Nordost Odin. Ted told me that, had I allowed his cabling two months to settle in, his cables would have fully opened up and displayed a lot more top end. That, however, was not possible in a reference system that needs consistency of sound for music and equipment review purposes.

Hence, I shall not attempt a review of either the Synergistic Cabling or the Tesla PowerCell (which has a special connector that only accommodates a specially-terminated Synergistic Research power cable). Nonetheless, as you’ll read below, the barely settled in Synergistic cabling did an astounding job controlling bass and creating a three-dimensional soundstage.

Shakti Hallographs

At the time Ted arrived to set up my room, I was already using five of Frank Cheng’s Acoustic Resonators, four Shakti Hallographs, and a number of padded room tuning accoutrements (Room Tunes, Echo Busters, etc.) to help control errant reflections and focus sound. For the demo, the Acoustic Resonators were of course removed, so that we could focus on the effects of Ted’s competing system. The Shakti Hallographs, which Ted likes, remained along with the other room treatment.

Ted and I experimented with the placement and setting of the mid-room Hallographs, as well as the two behind the speakers. Once Ted and his cables departed, and I returned to using Nordost cabling, I made further modifications to Hallograph position and settings.

Ted likes the hallographs and is quite familiar with them. “They work really well with my products and Frank’s,” he says. “The do the same thing, but at a much lower frequency. And they’re directional, while my bowls are omni-directional.”

The Bass Station